by Gabrielle Ramírez
A native of New York City and son of East Harlem, his work extends and enriches a range of traditions, especially Nuyorican, Puerto Rican and African Diasporic writing, and he has received a raft of awards for it. I can recall the excitement that greeted his book When a Nickel Costs a Dime, which featured a CD (then a relatively rare addition) from which the two poems below come, and he has continued to publish, perform, teach, and reach, including creating a publishing house, Cypher Books, to issue the poetry of today. Here are "Song for Langston," a poet whose influence runs through the arteries of Willie's work, and "Revolution," which is as relevant today, in this world of endless, oppressive "Stop and Frisk" policing, as it was almost 20 years, when Willie wrote it.
SONG FOR LANGSTON I sang all night And cried all day Been wait' for a Storm to come my way Drown the tears Make soft the pain I hope my prayers Are not in vain
REVOLUTION One night Brother Lo told Officer Rooney: Muthafucka take off your badge and gun and see if I don't bust your ass all the way back to the precinct.
Copyright © Willie Perdomo, from When a Nickel Costs a Dime, New York: W. W. Norton, Inc., 1996. All rights reserved.